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Azucar y Candela featured review: CURTIS BROTHERS QUARTET

The Curtis Brothers--bassist Luques and pianist Zaccai--might have featured their mentor, Eddie Palmieri, on their debut quartet album Blood Spirit Land Water Freedom. Instead, they asserted their artistic independence by joining forces with other young lions. The results are fresh and revelatory, like spring growth in the garden of Latin jazz.  READ MORE>>>>

Born of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage and raised in Hartford, Conn., the Curtis Brothers filled out their quartet edition with conguero Reinaldo DeJesus and drummer Richie Barshay. A deeply felt sense of Puerto Rican identity pulses through the album, with the strong emergence of Afro-Puertorican rhythms alongside traditional Afro-Cuban elements.

The three covers here say a lot about the band's elders:  Noro Morales, Bud Powell, and a sublime take on a Chopin etude, complete with conga solo. Zaccai (also the pianist with the exotica revival group Waitiki 7) can play with classical gravitas when he wants to, showing his New England Conservatory training, as well as a witty historicity on some of his own bomba-fueled compositions. Conguero DeJesus contributes a couple of his own tasty tunes, and Zaccai brings an electro-funky keyboard sound to one of them. Luques dips into the bass' upper registers on a coyly enchanting montuno he wrote as a duo for the two brothers. Guest Giovanni Almonte contributes a juicy vocal and his own lyrics to one track. 

The album is currently nominated for an Independent Music Award; if you are looking for the future of Latin jazz, look and listen here.


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